‘2021’ (working title) is a new play by Lisa Nicoll, about living in a place that feels like it’s been written off.
The play is inspired by conversations and research held over a year with residents of Ferguslie Park in Paisley, which topped the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation in 2016 as the most deprived area in Scotland. ‘2021’ gets under the skin of these communities, and explores what it feels like to live somewhere that is under constant media attack; and that feels ignored, forgotten, left behind by the wider world. These villages and towns exist all around the UK; the place where ‘2021’ is set could be any of them.
In the town that’s just been awarded Top Spot on the deprivation list, life goes on. Jo puts her sparkly Christmas tree up for Halloween as well to save cash. Dan rakes people’s leaves for pennies. Jamie tries to earn enough from a zero-hours night factory job to see his little sister Meg through college. If he can’t do anything else, he can at least give her a chance.
Beth did get a decent chance at life. She comes from the town – but she got out. Her parents moved her away as a child. Now she’s a struggling journalist, chasing that elusive front page spot that’ll make it all worthwhile. When her place of birth hits the headlines, she spots her chance: can she contact her long-lost family there, and get the exclusive she needs – give readers the shocking expose they crave?
But Beth arrives just as the flood waters start to rise around the town. And she discovers more about herself than she ever expected. What happens to the town is a disaster, but it’s also a coming-together; a cleansing; a leveling. A chance to begin again.
‘2021’ explores how deeply ingrained poverty can affect people’s lives, and how they fight to rise above the circumstances they were born into. It asks what it takes for us to look beyond the headlines, and who gets left behind when regeneration happens. And ultimately it questions: what does it mean to have lost your roots?
‘2021’ has live music woven throughout; taking popular tunes and giving them its own unique twist. And it features a community cast of lindy hop dancers who will get audiences moving and help see us through the troubled times.
The production and tour of ‘2021’ is funded by Renfrewshire Council as part of the Paisley 2021 City of Culture legacy. The play will tour across Scotland in Autumn 2020, and then to select cities in England and Northern Ireland in Spring 2021 (focusing on the past and current Cities of Culture: Coventry, Hull, Liverpool and Derry/Londonderry).
At each tour location we will also run a series of free community workshops in the months leading up to the tour, to engage people from some of the most disadvantaged communities in the area with fun, inclusive cultural activity. This will include music and dance workshops, play readings, playwriting workshops, theatre trips, and podcast sessions; to build word of mouth about the play, to inspire local people to try something new, and to help residents to have their voices heard more widely.
Writer - Lisa Nicoll
Director - Allie Winton Butler
Designer - Jessica Brettle
Producer - Corinne Salisbury
Music Workshops Facilitator and Composer - Biff Smith
Social Media & Marketing Assistant - Catherine Elliott
PR - Sharon McHendry, SM Publicity
Podcast Creator - Cameron McGarva
Cast - Stephen Arthur, Leah Byrne, Mary Gapinski, Colin Little, Laura Szalecki